Patterico's Pontifications


McCain Supports a Homeland Surge and Merit-Based US Attorneys

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From ABC News, John McCain suggests an Iraq/Giuliani-inspired surge for high-crime areas here at home:

“McCain called them tactics “somewhat like we use in the military.”

“You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control,” he said. “And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement.”

The way he described it, his approach sounded an awful lot like the surge.”

In addition, in what will be music to many ears at this blog, McCain supports a crony-free Justice Department:

“U.S. attorneys will be appointed strictly on the basis of qualifications and not political connections.”

Law and order wins elections.


21 Responses to “McCain Supports a Homeland Surge and Merit-Based US Attorneys”

  1. “U.S. attorneys will be appointed strictly on the basis of qualifications and not political connections.”

    — A clear distinction between McCain and President Bush is McCain’s reluctance to engage in cronyism.

    Icy Truth (94cc06)

  2. Then I expect the name, gender, and school to be redacted from the resumes, with only the grades received and the experience in the various posts to be offered. The candidates should only be identified by name or number until offered to the Senate for confirmation.

    Can anyone else suggest an alternative method for carrying out that goal?

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  3. Drum, I personally think US Attorneys should have experience prosecuting criminals before they are hired, and that the law school they attend is not particularly relevant once they have a few years of experience handling cases. I agree with you that it would make some sense to not consider it, and I’d even say that law grades aren’t the best help either if the lawyer has significant experience (and all nominees should).

    I think noting the kinds of cases handled, how many went to trial, the conviction rate of those that did go to trial, if any 6th amendment appeals of those convictions were successful, should provide a good look at how skilled the US Attorney would be. Perhaps a nice statement of the Attorney’s views on criminal justice (I know this sounds a bit political, but it’s important to know how they prioritize things like drugs, tax evasion, etc, in a resource limited office).

    But for attorney’s a big part of their qualifications is their professional reputation. Their school, often their grades, and their politics are going to be ties in so closely with that, that it’s going to be pretty dang tough to cut out all the unfairness inherent in the system.

    But if I were in charge, a nice simple report noting their prosecution success and their stated views on how to handle the job would be sufficient.

    I recall when Clinton fired every single US Attorney in order to cram the office with sycophants. Bush certainly didn’t go that far, but he does have a huge crony problem. I’m glad Mccain really is a pretty straight player and probably won’t have this problem. Mccain doesn’t get enough credit for this kind of thing.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  4. Unfortunately, McCain’s position is a good way to end up with a left wing Justice Department no matter who is president. Bush has suffered from this phenomenon not only at Justice but also at State and CIA. Ask someone what the chances were of a member of the Federalist Society getting an appointment during the Clinton Administration. When one side is following the rules and the other one isn’t, they call that unilateral disarmament. Doug Feith’s book tells how Bush’s initiatives were consistently derailed by mid-level people who voted for his opponents. That’s not to say that trying to solve the problem by clumsy attempts at litmus tests is smart,.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  5. US Attorneys carry out the administration’s prosecutorial priorities – I don’t think that eliminating all ideological criteria is really a practical approach.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control.

    It’s been tried many times before. It doesn’t reduce crime, it just shifts it. The criminals don’t become law-abiding, they move to where the cops aren’t and continue breaking the law. The cops can’t have a heavy presence everywhere.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  7. I vote with SPQR on this.
    USA’s must follow the priorities of the President in enforcing the law within their individual jurisdictions.
    If they can’t, they should resign, or be replaced – publicly!
    Where the cronyism has to end is appointing the sycophants of Senators/Governors/etc.
    A USA has to look to the WH over and above anywhere else –
    You dance with the one that brung yah!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  8. The problem that Bush has and that all Republican presidents since Eisenhower have had is the fact that the overwhelming majority of governmental employees are liberal democratic in political orientation. They naturally resist what they perceive as wrong programs or solutions.

    At best, most of the Justice Department attorneys passively oppose Bush and his policies. In the worst cases, these employees actively sabotage programs and policies with which they disagree.

    It is bad enough for thoughtful analysts to want to bring back the “Spoils System.”

    longwalker (d671ab)

  9. Of course government employees tend to be liberal Democrats: job from the govt, a guarantee that not only will your job never disappear but a better one could open up (along with an entire new department) any day now, more money poured into your department; they’re suckling at Uncle Sam’s teat and they like it.

    Icy Truth (94cc06)

  10. SDB accurately describes the “whack-a-mole” theory, and why it didn’t work in Iraq until we put in a lot more people.
    The question arises, will the American People be comfortable with that degree of police presence in their neighborhoods?
    Also, do we have the Federal resources to accomplish such a task?
    Arresting, and prosecuting, in the Federal Courts will be more effective for several reasons: No parole for one; and the ability to send the prisoner far away (maybe we could build additional Fed. Prisons in Alaska – your average gang-banger would not like spending his hard time near the Arctic Circle).

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  11. It is racist to attack crime where crime is being committed.

    JD (712926)

  12. #11

    I am sure you had your tongue firmly in cheek here, but that exact argument has been made on many occasions when a city has strongly stepped up police presence in crime ridden neighborhoods. If the people are arrested are primarily other than white middle class, it is decried as racism and the whole project gets ACLU action against it.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  13. I must be missing something here. Are those Federal police going to enforce State laws?

    tmac (86debe)

  14. Cronyism?

    You mean how Clinton replaced ALL US Atterneys? And then Bush tried to treat them with respect and got stabbed in the back?

    And Jay has it. For every real crime committed by a black man, one will have to be made up for whites. Kind of like how they put white girls with midol on the same level as minority kids with crack (for school suspensions/expulsions).

    martin (30db2b)

  15. One emphatically important reason the Surge and the various ‘awakenings’ were successful was they were undertaken and accomplished in a foreign country war zone, and without the oversight and direction of the US legal establishment.

    Which would point to the futility of expecting productive results from any Surge-like operation in US urban crime hotspots. So let’s think these things through and realize what will really happen when the US legal system is unleashed on any attempt to do a surge operation in a crime-filled ghetto.

    Good intentions, but woeful perception of reality. One would expect only a declaration of martial law could make any headway in this regard. And we all know that’s not going to happen. Lewd-a-criss to even mention.

    allan (a36d93)

  16. Icy Truth — the TRUTH is that Bush appointed more career AUSAs to the position of US Attorney than any President in history. Nearly 40% of the original US Attorneys appointed by Bush in his first term were not campaign contributors — they were career prosecutors. That was a huge change in terms of the tradition of US Attorneys being patronage appointments.

    While they were certainly Republicans, because they were AUSAs at the time of the election, they were barred by the Hatch Act from supporting Bush’s campaign.

    wls (4ab682)

  17. #13…
    There would be no need for Fed LE to attempt to enforce State laws, for there are enough statutes on the Fed. books to put most anyone away.
    Congress has almost a pathological need to Federalize almost every type of criminal behavior (except its’ own).

    Another Drew (758608)

  18. #16 – wls

    — President Bush engaged in cronyism all throughout his appointments; from Brownie to McClellan to AG Gonzales. In far too many cases he showed more loyalty to them than they did to him. It was DRJ who said, “McCain supports a crony-free Justice Department”. I was echoing her sentiments when I wrote: “A clear distinction between McCain and President Bush is McCain’s reluctance to engage in cronyism”. Beyond Gonzales I haven’t accused President Bush of applying cronyism to the Justice Department.

    Icy Truth (94cc06)

  19. Lets see now. Clinton fired all of the U.S. attorneys. Bush fired less than 10 who were worthless.
    The next president can’t hire or fire any (by rules set by the dim congress critters) without starting open warfare. Stupidity/Actions do come back to bite you on the butt.

    We don’t need a surge in the criminal, aka democrat, ran cities. We need mayors, police, and judges (no democrats are capable) who do the job they are paid to do. That was proven in NYC at one time.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  20. Lets stick to the facts.

    Clinton demanded the resignations of all sitting US Attorneys, as was his right.

    Bush did the same thing when he took office. US Attorneys are policy makers, and as such the President is entitled to have appointees who share his policy views.

    My point to Icy Truth was that Bush did NOT rely on cronyism to fill the 93 US Attorney positions when he was first elected. There is no doubt that many campaign contributors were among the 93 appointed. But, as I noted, there were nearly 40 appointed who had not made been involved with the Bush-Cheney campaign. That is true because they were career prosecutors — AUSAs in US Attorneys Offices around the country, and thereby barred by the Hatch Act from working for a partisan campaign.

    “Cronyism” is a very ill-defined term — does it rely only to unqualified appointees, or all appointees who have a political connection to the campaign? Was Ashcroft a “crony”?

    But, the reality of staffing the huge bureaucracy that is the federal branch is that the WH relies upon the recommendations of people all over the country to fill positions. THere are literally thousands of political appointees across all the different departments and agencies. It would be logistically impossible to conduct a blind, merit based search for the hiring of each and every slot that has to be filled. That’s why so many of them are — including US Attorneys — are filled based on recommendations to the WH by people who are familiar with the job duties of the office, and have candidate that fits those qualifications.

    Is this system ripe for abuse? Of course it is. And its never going to change because too much has to happen on too short a time frame. How many government employees do you want to spend every day doing nothing but trying to find out if the applications for thousands of positions are truly qualified? Every position could have multiple applicants — start to do the math on the bureaucracy you are going to create just to make sure the rest of the bureaucracy is qualified.

    wls (4ab682)

  21. It seems a pattern to condemn the Bush administration for doing something even when they do it less than all previous administrations.

    SPQR (26be8b)

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